The New Sonos App and Future Feature Updates

The New Sonos App and Future Feature Updates
The New Sonos App and Future Feature Updates
Jun 10, 2024

It is likely that you have experienced some level of frustration while using the Sonos app if you own Sonos speakers. I do not believe that the application is subpar when one considers the numerous functions it must manage, such as playing and discovering music from a plethora of services, managing multiple connected devices, and guiding users through the setup and troubleshooting process. However, at the very least, it is reasonable to imply that it is somewhat outdated. And Sonos is aware of this, which is why they are introducing a brand-new app for Android and iOS that was developed from the ground up. It will be accessible on May 7.

I conversed with Neil Griffiths, the Vice President of User Experience and User Research at Sonos, regarding the redesign. He stated that it was the outcome of discussions with hundreds of customers regarding their listening preferences and the manner in which they desire to utilize the application. The company adopted two principles for the new app as a result of these discussions. One objective was to facilitate the playback of any audio content, including streaming music, podcasts, radio, audiobooks, and devices connected to Sonos speakers such as TVs or turntables. The second is making the app into a hub that’s better-suited to getting to precisely what you want to hear.

The final result is a much simplified app — the former one had the usual five options along the bottom, three of which could be used to discover music. Now, there’s a single, customizable home screen with a persistent search bar and grids of content. By default, you’ll see a “recently played” section at the top that draws things in from any service you use; below that you’ll see a carousel of the various services you have connected up to Sonos. There’s also an area that regulates various inputs, like line-in to speakers that support it or TVs connected into soundbars. That way, you can touch those to alternate between streaming music and playing back the connected device.

The rebuilt Sonos app focuses on getting you to your tunes faster

There’s still a “now playing” bar at the bottom of the app that you can select to get the complete playback controls and audio adjustments, but if you swipe up from the bottom of the screen you’ll instead get a view of your whole Sonos system. This shows all your speakers and what’s playing where; you can modify volume for each from here or group speakers together.

Easily the greatest feature about this new app is the customizable home screen, though. Not only can you alter the order of items that appear there, you can also pin content directly from within different applications so you can get to it promptly. For example, Spotify, Apple Music and essentially every other music service typically have a “new releases for you” section that displays recent albums based on your listening patterns. If you always want to see that, you can attach it directly to your home screen and it’ll dynamically update when Spotify has new choices. And you can re-order these carousels so your most-used one is directly at the top of the screen.

The old Sonos home interface had a recently played section at the top and let you attach songs, albums, playlists and stations from across your services, so it had some degree of flexibility. But being able to add entire, dynamically updating sections from the applications you use feels like a significant stride forward. I can easily see pinning a half-dozen lists from various apps to my home screen, which will make the process of launching audio from the Sonos app itself a lot more fluid. I still mostly use AirPlay or Spotify Connect to broadcast to my speakers, but I believe it’ll be worth setting up my home in this new app and see if I use it more. Pulling together content from the too many streaming apps I use in one place sounds like a pleasant upgrade over leaping in and out of applications depending on what I want to hear.

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Sonos also made it simpler to launch straight into the service of your choice. All of the streaming applications that you’re enrolled in to will appear in a carousel as well, with your default / preferred option always at the outset of the selection. The same applies for search — when you open the search bar and enter something in, you’ll get the results from your preferred service first.

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The company is also replacing its existing desktop controller software for Mac and Windows with a web app that'll offer the same functionality and design as you get on your phone. That's probably a smart decision, as the Sonos controller feels fairly out of sync with the company's current design and feature set, though I'm sure some will chafe at it being a web app. That should also start trickling out on May 7, and the existing Mac and Windows app will ultimately be wound down.

For a lot of people, I suspect the Sonos app will still be a “set it and forget it” kind of device, used to get speakers set up and then stowed away in case something goes awry. If you only have one or two speakers and do virtually all your listening through Spotify, for example, it’ll probably be preferable to just use the Spotify app itself still. But individuals who have a more involved speaker configuration and use multiple sources for audio should find a lot to like here when the app arrives in a few weeks.